How Santa got his wish: A story of hope and healing

For many families throughout Massachusetts and Rhode Island, there was only one man who could play Santa Claus: Ronald (Ron) Pynn. Ron spent 30 years of his life bringing smiles and cheer to all with his rosy cheeks, big white beard and the perfect Christmas spirit.

Since moving to Mount St. Rita Health Centre, Ron has continued to bring that same cheer to his fellow residents each Christmas season. This year, he faced complications with his illness and didn’t think he would be able to play the role he was made for. Ron has been receiving palliative care from HopeHealth to manage his symptoms and add an extra layer of support.

“This is what HopeHealth is all about. Our goal is to help patients live the best they possibly can until the very end.”

Once HopeHealth care navigator, Austyn Joaquin, RN, BSN, learned that Ron was worried about whether he could be Santa this year, she knew she had to do something to help. She arranged to have a special makeup artist take care of Ron’s concerns and make him comfortable enough to play his big role. All of this was funded through HopeHealth’s Compassion Fund, an employee giving campaign.

Elderly man getting his makeup done

On the day of the residents’ Christmas party, Austyn, Jane Noel, palliative nurse practitioner, and makeup artist Vanessa Poulin worked together to make magic happen. As he went down the halls in his perfect Santa suit, he called out to everyone, “Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!” His daughter Rhonda Digilio’s eyes welled with tears of joy as she saw her dad beaming the same way she watched him do for more than 30 years. And his smile was contagious. Everyone he passed started beaming the same as Santa. “He’s so happy. I haven’t seen my dad this happy in a long time,” exclaimed Rhonda.

Santa looking in the mirror
“This is what HopeHealth is all about. Our goal is to help patients live the best they possibly can until the very end. When I learned that being Santa was most important to Ron, it was a no brainer. I had to help,” shared Austyn. “It felt so good – he’s the epitome of Santa Claus. He put us all in the holiday spirit.”

People surrounding a sitting Santa Claus

Ready to learn how palliative or hospice care can help you or your loved one? Call us at (844) 671-4673 or email us at
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